Thursday, October 31, 2013

My Children This Week

I still get weekly updates from Baby Center, the website I joined when I was pregnant over 5 years ago. It sent me little updates filling me in on what size my baby was. It started with a sesame seed and ended with a watermelon which turned out to be my 7 1/2 pound daughter. The emails kept coming once she arrived to keep me informed about what to expect week by week. I now get one called "your big kid" and your "17 month old week one."

This week it told me that I need to stay consistent with the discipline I give my 5 year old. That if my change my tune from one day to the next she won't know what rules to follow and what rules she can test. It has some tips on helping her be more articulate and table manners for a restaurant. For my son this week it recommends giving him opportunities to climb. It discuss the future potty training topic, and is your child ready to lose the morning nap.

Here is what they don't tell me in the weekly updates. I keep looking but it never seems to cover these specific topics. My daughter is going to come home from a full day of school and regress from an amazing Kindergarten student back to a three year old the minute I open the front door. Maybe she will wait until after she has a snack, but most likey it won't be long. She works all day to keep it together at school and be "good" that when she comes home she collapses in a mix of meltdown and fit sobs. Not pretty! She also has learned to refine her manipulation tools this week. She explains that if she doesn't get an ice cream like other kids after school she will feel left out. This is where I fail on my consistent discipline. Some days I say "too bad" and that we cant always have what everyone else has, but other days I am a straight up sucker for her and get her an over priced frozen piece of junk on a stick. I don't want to her to feel left out.

For my 17 month old they didn't tell me he would get a bruise on his head after he drags it on the floor in a fit of frustration. That when he doesn't get picked up at the precise moment he whines to be that he will flail his entire body like a wet fish out of water. They didn't tell me that he has the instinct to bite, hit, and head butt me when he gets upset. Most importantly they didn't mention that with his recent molars cutting into his gums that he will want to nurse around the clock. If I decide that I don't want to nurse him that I should be prepared for the neckline of every shirt I have to be ripped or stretched as he attemps to claim what is "his." Or that the transition from two naps to one is a bitch and that I will have no idea when to leave the house this week.

I don't know why they are sugar coating this all for me and making blanket statments like "pick your battles." This is a war zone here. There is no choice in which battle, it's coming at me from all sides. Good think I am so in love with my little enemies. They give kisses and draw me "i love you mommy" notes at school so I have more fight in me.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Doing "It"

Every so often I get the pang to go back to work, or start a new career. I get inspired -- maybe get as far as making a few calls or sending a few emails and then I try to play out the logistics in my mind of how it would all work. It can be done but it doesn't take me long to realize that it wouldn't be easy. Not impossible, just not easy.

I came across a friend's blog post recently where she said she asked the universe for a very specific request. She said she wasn't too into The Secret but wanted to put something out there that she wanted to manifest. She is a stay at home mom who occasionally works as a writer and performer. She hadn't really brought in much money since she had her son seven years ago and was ready to work. She knew she wanted a job that would still let her be around for her son about 80% of the time (I told you she was very specific).

With her list clear and her skills up to par she got exactly what she asked for. She now is writing and acting in a web series that is part time and exactly what she wanted. I began to formulate in my mind what that would be for me. I have a desire to still perform so I could go back into acting. I could increase my existing business as a personal trainer to more than a small handful of clients. I have an interest in getting certified to be a doula since I have gotten a lot out of assisting in bunch of my friends births. There are a few food ideas I want to market, as well as some theater for social change ideas.

Quickly I realize I have a lot of ideas. Then I realize to execute them it would require time and money. It would also require help for my one year old and probably help for my five year old too. That equals more money. The time part would take away from my kids which is something I don't want to sacrifice. The minute I think of missing a first word or a new step I get really bummed. I very quickly manifest what I already have, which is creative ways to spend time with my kids and still keep my sanity in check. The latter can be challenging at times but I think overall I manage okay.

As for my five year fantasy plan. It will all be there when my toddler goes to school one day. That will come up quicker than I want. This time with him is fleeting. He won't be little anymore by the time I check off things on my accomplishment list, but a career will be waiting when I am read. In any case I need to fine tune that list.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friendly Reminder

One of my best friends is about to have her third baby. She is strong woman and an excellent mother. When we were pregnant with our seconds together, she secretly confessed to me that she hoped it was another girl so she could justify a third and try for a boy. She manifested exactly that. Although not on purpose.

The hectic craziness that comes with a new little human entering your already chaotic household was not that far behind her when she realized her period was late by a few days. When she told me she was concerned, I didn't even really hear her because it just didn't seem possible. With each day that passed the magnitude of it was getting bigger and bigger. At that particular moment in time, she and her husband were not in the best emotional or financial position to add another member to the family. They lived in a cluttered two bedroom apartment. They were just coming out of the haze that comes with having a baby. Their second daughter had just turned one and they were looking for a new place to live, and a good night's sleep.

When a pregnancy test confirmed she was pregnant she texted me the picture of the stick. It was the complete opposite of the previous pregnancies. The first time, I knew she was trying -- she came to my house and we made small talk for a half an hour, while both of us were tip-toeing around the issue. I was afraid to ask her and she wasn't supposed to tell me because she promised her husband she wouldn't tell anyone. I just had to ask and we danced around the room overjoyed. The second time it was equally as exciting. This time, the only thing in common with the other two was that I was the only person other than her husband to know. They were in denial. Unsure what, if anything, to do about this.

She cried to our OB and he couldn't have been more understanding. He gave her different scenarios, dates at which decisions would need to be made, and a very objective stance. With time off or on her side, she went home to think about it. With each passing day the decision diminished because an attachment had grown. Even if they couldn't quite wrap their heads around a third child, they had a harder time wrapping their heads about not having it. Like many complicated situations it wouldn't be as simple as coming to a clear choice. When her testing for the health of the fetus came back the results were terrifying. There was a one in 34 chance of the baby having birth defects. She had to do her best to but a screeching pause on her attachments and wait for further testing. At this point I was so at odds about how this would play out and this baby wasn't even mine. It was all such a roller coaster of emotions.

They scheduled an amnio and then quickly paid an additional few hundred dollars to get a rush on the results. Amazing news came shortly after that the baby was healthy and that it was a boy. It was such a relief to hear he was healthy and everyone became quickly aware of how wanted he really was. Now as her last few weeks of what seemed like the fastest of all her pregnancies, the element of surprise is tarnished a little, but I don't think there are any complaints about that. There is nothing to shock her third time around. Yes, it will be more crazy and crowded trying to do anything. Her house will probably get that much messier and that much louder. They are about to go through another year of intense lack of sleep. They know the drill though. Her body will do some crazy things, and then her mind will think it needs to do some crazier things, and maybe third time around she can out-think it. If not, tissues will be available for the many tears that will fall.

When all settles and six months pass she will have a giggly smiley little guy who will sit on his own. He will then laugh, stand, walk and play. By his first birthday we will all marvel at how grateful we are that he is here. I will get my newborn fix through her as we are a two-and-through family, and believe you me, I have no interest in going through pregnancy, birth, or another lick of postpartum depression, but I am beyond words jealous of getting to have another littler person become just that before my very eyes.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Stress Mess

I usually don't want to admit this but -- I am stressed.

I don't know why I don't want to admit it, perhaps because it could be perceived as a sign of weakness, but I surrender. I am stressed! For me stress leads to having a short fuse, being tightly wound, getting pissy, being bitchy -- oh, it's just countless. Since life is short and feeling like you are trying to avert a car crash every other minute is not pleasant, I decided I wanted to do something about it. I can't afford the time or money to go to therapy, so I decided to look online for some tools.

I found a great website to help me with stress management. It's in twelve steps (how did twelve become the magic # for recovery?), and I'm giving it a go.

1) Acknowledge you have a problem.

I have a problem.

2)Keep a hostility log.

Here is an abridged version:
- I feel rushed all the time.
- I never get to sit down except when my son is sleeping.
- My daughter doesn't like anything I feed her unless it has sugar on top.
- My husband gets to get in his car everyday on his own, drive it somewhere, and get out on his own and I am a little jealous.
- I take on way more than I should and don't like to, nor do I want  to say "no."
- My kids annoy me, and then I judge myself for that fact, because I also absolutely adore them and I keep forgetting those two feelings are not mutually exclusive.
- I have so much I want to do, and never get through a daily list because I keep adding to it.
- I try to tell myself "there is time" and "life is long" but come on now -- I hear "do it now" and "life is short" way more so it wins out.
- Very little is predictable these days, except that Miley Cyrus would do nude videos. I could have bet on that one.
- I don't want to overwhelm or over plan my daughter with activities after school but I want her to keep doing gymnastics and start learning Mandarin. Even though she is five and that is a lot, and yet because she is five, time is off the essence on the foreign language skills.
- My 15 month old wakes up before 6 am and that makes me start my day annoyed, not to mention, tired.
- There is too much good television these days to get to bed early and read and I miss reading. When I try I fall asleep, wake up when the book hits my face and then repeat that cycle a few more times.

3) Use your social network.

- Not posting it on Facebook but I am telling whoever reads this.

4) Interrupt the Anger Cycle

- Working on that currently.

5) Use Empathy

- Okay, I can always give someone else the benefit of the doubt. Just working on my speed at which I get there.

6) See the Humor

- Oh how I love this idea! Try to "catastrophize" the situation in your head. I don't usually have to try so hard and it doesn't often seem funny in the moment, but again I am going to work on my comedic timing.

7) Relax

- I resent whenever someone tells me to "chill" when I am in the heat of a matter, but I am calm right now so I will try to remember what this feels like when my blood begins to boil.

8) Build a Trust

- I like this one. Angry people can be cynical and can believe that others do things on purpose to annoy them. Building a trust is something I can wrap my head around along with number 5, I just need to work on my uptake. I like the idea of showing people that you are a person of integrity and keeping to your word. If people see that in me they are likely to follow my lead.

9) Listen Effectively

Improving active listening skills. When you can listen better to what someone say it is easier to find a resolution that doesn't involve anger. Okay so, that would mean being less distracted and I have lost my train of thought five times trying to write this sentence. I have had to wipe tears, open a pack of baby cookies, save my keyboard from sandy hands, what was I saying? Oh distraction. Maybe in a few years I will hear every word people are saying to me, but for now I will have to settle for #8 and trust that I heard the important parts.

10) Be Assertive

That's kind of my problem. The article makes a point of differentiating between assertive and aggressive but I sometimes think its a bit of a fine line. Aggression is about winning. Case and point: Charlie Sheen seemed pretty selfish to me and he was quite a self proclaimed "winner." When you are assertive you focus on balance and respect the needs of others. I don't know if every one else out there knows of the difference but its a good goal.

I read a story once about a father who taught his child to be more assertive by helping her hone her argument when she wanted something. When she whined he explained to her that it wasn't a compelling enough attempt. He instructed her on how to give a good reason for why it would benefit her to have a lollypop after eating a cupcake. If she made a good enough case I guess he would give in.
I am pretty sure I have this kid already in the making without my help, and I am not sure it's very attractive in a five year old, at least not when my case is stronger for not having a lollypop. I do think having enough confidence to clearly get a point across is crucial, and I want that for my kids and for me. Hope that makes sense and that is assertive enough. imagine I said that in a strong voice with confidence.

11) Live Each Day as if it's Your Last

Life is Short. If you spend time getting pissed off, you are going to miss out on some of the joy. In my own personal case I can argue that because I am capable of allowing myself to feel the extreme emotions that come with my frustration I am also capable of feeling an extreme high that comes with joy. I know what it feels like to be overjoyed and alive and there unfortunately has to be the other side of that as well.

I do agree that letting anger get the best of me is a waste of time though. I do have too many things I want to do to let it get in the way. I think checks and balances are important. For example I need to balance my "Breaking Bad" habit with a bit of "Cupcake Wars" now and again, or it all gets way too heavy.

12) Forgive and Forget

Saying sorry is not my favorite thing in the world to do, but I learned very quickly with my daughter that I need to get over that. My mission with I am sorry is that there is really no good that can come from being defensive about our mistakes. If you hurt someone or do something wrong say "Sorry." I have said it to her quickly, nicely and effectively,when she notices my screw ups. Now I could only get this down with my husband I'd be in much better shape.